If you lay down with dogs you get fleas. If you make your bed with demented conspiracy theorists, you become mentally ill. This is the unfortunate position that certain sections of the American right have found themselves in following the presidential election last year.

Lots of Americans had — and still have — suspicions about the massive surge in mail-in voting in November. It’s hard to blame them. The 2020 election was a very strange one on any number of fronts. But no sane person can possibly now deny that the Trump campaign, in its attempts to prove the election a fraud, engaged in and with some serious charlatanry.

Rudy Giuliani’s ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign collapsed into farce, thanks in no small part to the efforts of his fellow lawyer Sidney Powell, who now finds herself in court being sued by Dominion Voting Systems after she alleged that the company was part of an international communist conspiracy to steal American democracy.

Powell’s defense now appears to rest on the intriguing argument that she didn’t expect to be taken seriously. Or as her lawyers put it, in the sort of mangled English only the legal profession can love:

‘Given the highly charged and political context of the statements, it is clear that Powell was describing the facts on which she based the lawsuits she filed in support of President Trump.

‘Indeed, Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as “wild accusations” and “outlandish claims”. They are repeatedly labeled “inherently improbable” and even “impossible”. Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants’ position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.’

It’s true — lots of conservatives were inlandish enough to disbelieve Powell’s claims. Several of The Spectator’s writers, for instance. Or Tucker Carlson, who bravely raised doubts about her credibility on his Fox News show.

Carlson was duly berated by legions of counterknowledge freaks and media grifters posing as patriots, who led their more credulous followers to believe that Powell’s ‘kraken’ was about to be unleashed. But he was right. Sidney it seems was less interested in what was true than perhaps a lawyer should be…